It is easy to say that the debate on whether one can separate Lovecraft’s work from his beliefs will never be resolved. However, I think the underlying question is still worth asking: because deciding whether or not to read a dead author’s work isn’t the only judgement we make in life.
Synchronicity summoned up the lively awe-filled-ness of this talk by Zak Ebrahim, the son of one of the people who bombed the World Trade Center.
There are many different potential messages in the talk, but one is that Ebrahim lives in a world where he felt he needed to change his name, where he is not without concern revealing who his father is; where he expects to be judged not for his own works and beliefs but his father’s.
It is easy to see ourselves as being people who wouldn’t make that mistake but are we free of the underlying oversimplification? Imagine a scientist invents a pill that cures cancer then goes home and kicks a puppy: is taking the cure immoral? What if instead of kicking the puppy, they kill it? If you’re fine with taking the cure but not with supporting an artist whose beliefs you disagree with, where is the line?
Of course the question of whether Lovecraft (or other artists) can be separated from his work isn’t that important. But that is exactly what makes it so worth asking: if we properly ask ourselves where the line falls for us on an insignificant matter, then we might be able to tackle the more important questions of whether we can separate a child from the parents, an individual from their nation, &c.